For better or worse, Eternals fulfilled the promise of taking the MCU in a new direction. Whether that worked out or not is subjective: It currently sits at 47% on the Tomatometer, though the audience score is still a relatively healthy 80%.
Writers Kaz and Ryan Firpo, discussing their creative process in an interview with Polygon, provided interesting insights into what they hoped to achieve with Eternals, revealing some surprising inspirations for the story and tone.
According to them, Hayao Miyazaki’s 2001 animated classic Spirited Away and Squaresoft’s 1997 RPG Final Fantasy VII were frequently cited on set during discussions with director Chloé Zhao. As Kaz puts it:
“Chloé is a fantastic human filmmaker that makes spiritual dramas, and at the same time, she’s a huge nerd. And that’s sort of the secret sauce of Chloé.”
They went on to explain that Spirited Away and Final Fantasy VII share a gray sense of morality, refuse to divide their worlds into simple heroes and villains, and aren’t afraid to ask big questions. All this filtered into Eternals. As they explained:
“It’s really a movie that’s about Humanity with a capital H, and the question of: Are we worthy of this gift that we’ve been given of both this planet and life? Then for these eternal, immortal space gods to grapple with that too, that was something that no movie, I don’t think, has ever had the chance to kind of do.”
The pair also say they’re not surprised Eternals is getting bad reviews because “it’s challenging so many things about the convention.” Finally, in response to a question about their dream project, they say they’d jump at the chance to do a movie based on Final Fantasy VII:
“Final Fantasy VII was a story I played when I was very young that changed my life. It really opened the horizons of what you could do in a story. I think, for me, my dreams always been to take Final Fantasy VII and do it as the most epic story of all time.”
Though the Final Fantasy VII story is already being retold via remakes (with gamers eagerly awaiting news on the second part of the saga), its environmental themes are becoming scarily relevant, so I reckon it’d make for a fantastic movie trilogy. Let’s hope Square Enix is listening.
Eternals is currently in theaters.